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February 20, 2017

No, Nothing is Out There; You’re On Your Own

Filed under: Main — admin @ 12:01 am

I remember when I got my first computer. It came with a basic (literally BASIC) how-to book, but nothing else. If you wanted more information, you went to the library or a bookstore. I chose the latter.

In 1981, when I purchased my first PC, computer books were abundant, occupying a great deal of space in both bookstores at the mall. (Imagine: Two bookstores in a mall!) Yet, the books were over-priced crap. By 1982, the selection was down from a dozen racks to two shelves of books.

The computer book publishing industry crashed in the early 1980s, but it was from overproduction and not lack-of-demand. Eventually the big New York publishing houses left the business and smaller publishers took over, offering a great selection of informative titles, many of which I still have.

This book-learning paradigm died in the early 2000s, not because of quality but because of “free” information on the Internet. The quality isn’t there, so books still exist just not as abundantly. And the publishers are aware of their competition, but they still ignore a big chunk of the market that’s eager for solid information, well-formatted and edited on paper.

Case in point: I’m learning some new software and brushing up my skills on programs I already use but use poorly. My first choice is to find a good book on the subjects that interest me. Problem: There are no books on the subjects.

For example, I’m again trying to hone my skills in Adobe Flash. It’s not only a graphics program, but an animation studio plus it features a programming language. I have a book I bought years ago, but it’s no good any more (which is a downfall of all computer titles). Further, Flash has been renamed to Adobe Animate. So any book on “Flash” is obsolete by default.

I looked at some online courses, but I find that method doesn’t suit me as a beginner. Too many of the tutorials pass by rapidly and the expert tends to either show off what he knows or doesn’t explain things well enough for me to appreciate. (Watching a bad tutorial actually helps me make a better tutorial.)

So I’m left to struggle on my own and learn in a clumsy manner. That means I won’t know the shortcut or tricks unless I really take the time to explore the program. And who has time? No one! That’s why I once bought books so that an expert could teach us in a polite and logical way. Those days are gone.

Postscript: I’m changing the publishing dates for the blog from Tuesday/Thursday to Monday/Thursday. I like to start my week reading new material, so think Monday is a better day to present a blog update than Tuesday.

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